Most people don’t know when they are going to die. That significant day passes by without much thought until IT finally happens. But on this day, as I sat in the bed of the light blue truck, I knew that I was going for my last ride.
“What’s your name?” my friends and I had asked the man who wanted to be our friend as we played between the cars in Braywood Apartments.
“You can call me Mr. Nobody,” he smiled down at us, his eyes magnified by his oversized glasses.
We giggled at the man’s ridiculous attempt at naming himself, but knew that it wouldn’t do. “No, what’s your real name?”
He thought for a moment, smile wavering only slightly beneath his thick brown mustache. “My real name is Mr. Nobody. “ He eased our confusion with a pleasant laugh, his belly jiggling like jolly old Santa Claus.
“Do you kids like secrets?” he asked.
“We love secrets!” we giggled back, excited for some delicious news that would surely bring great pleasure.
“Let’s be friends, but don’t tell your parents,” he whispered slyly, winking and smiling with such great animation and playfulness that it wasn’t hard to promise.
We soon became familiar with his small apartment, playing on the computers he had arranged in the living room, our small ears covered by great ear phones. The special, older children were allowed to play in the back room. I couldn’t wait until I was old enough. He probably had some really cool toys back there that I might break.
Our familiar, exciting routine was interrupted one day as he entered his living room, clapping his hands to get our attention. “Who wants to go on an adventure?” he called out enthusiastically.
“I do!” the five of us shouted, thrusting our hands up into the air.
“Let’s go for a ride in my truck! Who wants to ride in my truck?” he asked as if we were a pack of eager dogs.
“I do!” we screeched, jumping up and racing towards the parking lot.
“Wait! We need to ask Mommy first,” I said, tugging on my older sister’s shirt.
“No, don’t ask your Mommy,” he sneered down at me. “Remember? This is our great secret! Nobody tells their mommy or daddy. We’re going on a secret adventure.” This time, his smile wasn’t as warm. Little pebbles of anxiety rolled around in my stomach.
I watched with pure envy as my ebony-haired sister with large brown eyes was given the privilege of riding shotgun with Mr. Nobody. My three friends and I climbed the tailgate and plunked down onto the bed of the light blue pickup. Everyone was laughing, but the pebbles in my stomach started shaking like dice in a cup. My head felt light like a balloon, and a fear I had never before encountered choked me.
“We need to tell Mommy!” I screamed at Jennifer who was sitting closely to Mr. Nobody. He turned around and glared at me. Jennifer glared, too.
The panic flared. “We need to tell Mommy!” I insisted. Mr. Nobody turned the ignition, and the truck rumbled to life.
My eyes were wide like a trapped animal, my heart pounding so fast I thought I would die. Why wouldn’t he let me leave?
In desperation, as Mr. Nobody switched the truck from park to reverse, I gave it my all. “We need to go home! Let me go home! Let me out!” I screamed until my throat burned. With a power I’ve never since been able to conjure up, I forced tears and made my body shake with a crying fit.
“We need to go home,” Jennifer tightly told the man without a name. He killed the engine, stomped towards the tailgate, and slammed it open. I clambered down and raced home with my sister, crying desperately as we ran down the stairs and into our apartment.
Somewhere along the interstate, past some trees where no one goes, the bodies of five young children do not lay there, mutilated by a stranger who called himself Mr. Nobody. We had been freed.